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Town and Country, It Pays to Do Both in New York

On a New York state itinerary, the choices seem endless.

Your group will find interesting and intriguing destinations at every turn, from glitzy New York City and nearby picturesque Long Island, which has hosted film production for years, to the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region, which celebrates wine, local food and the arts. Always spectacular, Niagara Falls State Park offers a variety of experiences that showcase the iconic American and Canadian falls. In the state’s northern region, the Adirondacks and Lake Placid tell the story of the winter Olympics in this mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.

One thing is certain: A visit to New York will satisfy the most sophisticated traveler in your group as well as those who enjoy the outdoors and seek the solitude of nature.

New York City and Long Island

No visit to the state is complete without experiencing some of what New York City has to offer. Theater, international cuisine, museums and shopping can undoubtedly fill an itinerary. From Queens, the Bronx and Harlem to Times Square, Manhattan and Brooklyn, the city begs to be explored. Staten Island, once the playground for New Yorkers looking for an urban escape, is known as the “green borough,” with the city’s highest concentration of parks. Fabulous views of the Statue of Liberty make the free Staten Island Ferry a memorable journey. And if your group hasn’t experienced Lady Liberty up close, you can easily spend the better part of a day boarding a Statue Cruise to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

For a different experience, Long Island boasts peaceful beaches, woodlands and quaint towns. It’s easy to reach from the city, and less than an hour by motorcoach from downtown Manhattan or via the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station. This longtime mecca for the rich and famous, who built mansions here, is also well known in the film industry. Groups can visit locations used in Hollywood movies such as “The Godfather” and “Men in Black II,” plus take guided tours of historic mansions used as film sets.

“Beyond our beautiful beaches, one of the aspects about Long Island which isn’t widely well known is that we’re rich in culture and in our contribution to American history and film,” said Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of Discover Long Island.

A snapshot of sites to tour includes Westbury House and the Old Westbury Gardens, the site of films such as “Love Story” and “Hitch.” Today it hosts museum exhibits, classic car shows, indoor and outdoor classical concerts, summer pop concerts, horticultural demonstrations and more. Sands Point Preserve’s Normandy-style manor house, Falaise, once belonged to horse racing enthusiast Harry Guggenheim, whose living room was used for the famous horse-head scene in “The Godfather.” And the Gold Coast castle, Oheka, supposedly the inspiration for the “Great Gatsby” mansion, added to its notoriety when it was used as the site of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.